Last updated: 03/19/2020

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A couple of years ago Amazon launched a range of loudspeakers that are controllable by its voice assistant Alexa. The speakers are called Amazon Echo and they are devices that have been designed to make some everyday tasks a little easier. If you’ve heard something about them but still don’t quite know how they work then you’ve come to the right place.

Smart speakers have really taken off in recent years. They are well-marketed products that provide you with the ability to do a range of things that you never thought were possible or you never thought that you needed. Amazon introduced its first-generation smart speaker, the Amazon Echo, into the market in 2014, which was soon followed by other competitors such as Apple. For a complete guide on what an Amazon Echo is, what it can do, how to find the right product for you, and the best models on the market, keep reading the following guide.

Key Facts

  • The Amazon Echo is a small device that features one or two speakers, computer hardware components, and some advanced software that is built into an elegant cylinder. The speakers are equipped with WiFi to connect to the Internet and Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
  • There is not just one single Amazon Echo device available on the market. Since the first model was released, Amazon has expanded its product range each year to provide customers with many different options. Each model contains certain features that make it different from the other models.
  • When shopping for an Amazon Echo, there are several aspects that you should take into consideration before buying one of these speakers. Criteria such as sound quality, the inclusion of a screen, device size, and the microphone quality should all be assessed to ensure you choose the product that meets your needs and budget.

Our Selection: The Best Amazon Echo on the U.S. Market

As these are devices produced by Amazon, the best place to purchase one of these products is on the Amazon website. It is on the Amazon website where you will find the widest range of models as well as different generations. Below we have created a list of the four best Amazon Echo devices that we think you should review. We have selected the products below based on their value for money, their features and customer feedback.

The Original Amazon Echo

The original Amazon Echo is still one of the best models within the range. This 2nd generation Echo device features a 2.5″ downward-firing woofer and 0.6″ tweeter powered by Dolby to deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass. You can also sync this device to your smart TV to experience exceptional sound quality when watching your favorite movies or TV series.

The Smallest Amazon Echo

The 2nd generation Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device with a small built-in speaker that can transform your household. The Dot connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information such as news, sports scores, weather, and more. The Echo Dot has a sleek and compact design that can conveniently fit into any room of the house.

Best Amazon Echo With a Screen

The Amazon Echo Show 5 is one of the most powerful and comprehensive Echo models on the market thanks to its impressive 5.5″ screen and powerful speakers. With the Echo Show 5, you can catch up on news highlights, watch movie trailers or check weather and traffic updates before you head out the door. The small size makes it the perfect device for adding glanceable entertainment to any room.

The Amazon Echo With the Best Sound

The Amazon Echo Plus features premium speakers for powerful 360° sound so that you can experience the best quality sound in your home. With Alexa you can simply use your voice to set timers, add items to lists, and create calendar events and reminders. If you are looking for the Echo model that produces the best quality sound, the Echo Plus is the model for you.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Amazon Echo

An Amazon Echo is not just a simple speaker that blasts music when connected to your cellphone or computer. These devices have been created with a number of incredible features that allow them to do much more than simply playing music. So that you can fully understand what an Amazon Echo is, we’ve created the following section which will give you all the information you need to know.

One of the main features of an Amazon Echo device is the integration of the voice assistant called Alexa. 
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What is an Amazon Echo exactly?

The principal feature that defines the Amazon Echo device is the integration of the Amazon voice assistant called Alexa. Alexa is a computer program with whom humans can interact to ask questions and to make commands. It is very easy to interact with Alexa as it is usually enough to ask just once for Alexa to answer your questions or comply with your commands.

The Amazon Echo is an intelligent speaker, that along with the ability to emit sounds for your enjoyment has the ability to take commands thanks to the integration of Alexa. By using Amazon’s virtual assistant, Echo devices can provide you with accurate information about the weather, create shopping lists, help you in the kitchen, control other smart products like lights and TVs, and much more. All you have to do is speak to it.

What can Amazon Echo devices do?

Once activated or woken up by a specific phrase, you can virtually ask your Echo device anything or give it any command. Echo devices have the ability to understand almost every language, so it doesn’t matter what language you speak at home, Echo will understand you. Once the command has been given or the question asked, Echo will do everything possible to satisfy this request.

As an example, you ask Echo to play a specific song or type of music and it will do so using the services available, whether that be Spotify, YouTube or Amazon Music. You can also ask Echo for information about the weather in any part of the world, news, sports scores and more. As Echo answers questions with relatively natural speech, it feels like you are talking to a real person.

Amazon Echo devices link well with other smart devices in your home.
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If the idea of talking to a device sounds a little odd, you can find the Echo smartphone app for Android or Apple on either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. These applications allow you to control your Echo device entirely through the app, configure the device, and view recent commands or interactions.

What types of Amazon Echo devices are there?

The first device made was simply called Amazon Echo, however, Amazon has since decided to create many more models and versions. Each model is different and is tailored to a different market segment. Below we have listed 13 different Amazon Echo models and their key characteristics.

  • Amazon Echo (2nd generation): The 2nd generation model of the original Amazon Echo. This model features integrated speakers that allow you to listen to music and ask Alexa questions.
  • Amazon Echo Plus (2nd generation): Offers clearer and more powerful sound, with louder bass than the basic model. It also has a temperature sensor to activate smart devices in the home such as the air conditioner or the heater.
  • Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation): A smaller loudspeaker that provides high-quality audio. The 3rd generation model can provide great music quality, but it still doesn’t match the sound quality of the two models above.
  • Amazon Echo Dot (children’s edition): Has the same features as the normal Dot, but with a few extras such as access to more than a thousand audiobooks, songs, and games. With this model, parents can set daily time limits to control use, as well as filter out explicit songs.
  • Amazon Echo Show (2nd generation): Offers a large, functional touch screen and a powerful speaker.
  • Amazon Echo Show 5: Very similar to the Echo Show but it is smaller in size.
  • Amazon Echo Spot: This model is small enough to be a clock on a desk or nightstand. The camera on the front allows you to make video calls to other Echo Spot or Echo Show users.

There are other Amazon Echo devices that are not loudspeakers, but devices that have been created with Alexa integrated for specific purposes:

  • Amazon Echo Input: A device that makes third-party speakers compatible with Alexa.
  • Amazon Echo Sub: A subwoofer that is the perfect add-on to other Echo speakers. With an Echo Sub, you can dramatically improve the sound quality of your devices.
  • Amazon Echo Look: A small camera device that uses Alexa technology to see what you’re wearing and provide you with an opinion.
  • Amazon Echo Link: A device that connects to your existing stereo so that you can control music via Alexa but emit the sound through your own stereo.
  • Amazon Echo Link Amp: A 2-channel amplifier that can be added into your existing stereo system.
  • Amazon Echo Wall Clock: An intuitive wall clock that is integrated with Alexa.

An Amazon Echo could change the way you live.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of Amazon Echo devices?

Amazon Echo devices are incredible products that have the ability to change the way people live. The features and technology of these devices are continually being developed and updated to be even better. However, as with most things, there are some disadvantages that you should be aware of. In the table below we have listed the key advantages and disadvantages of Amazon Echo devices.

Advantages
  • Modern, compact and very stylish.
  • New features can be added via software updates.
  • Excellent value for money.
  • Possibility to control third-party devices.
Disadvantages
  • They do not use batteries.
  • They must always be connected to a power socket.
  • Some people think that they are an invasion of privacy.

Buyer’s Guide

As with buying any technology device today, there are some important aspects that will affect the quality of the product. When it comes to selecting and purchasing an Amazon Echo device, there are a number of aspects that we suggest you consider. By reviewing the criteria that we have listed below, you will be well on your way to finding the perfect Amazon Echo device that meets your needs and budget. Good luck!

Generation

As you may have noticed, the majority of the Amazon Echo devices are available in different generation versions. This aspect varies by model as some devices have up to 3 generations, whereas others have 2 or none at all. If an Echo model does not have any generations, i.e. it is the 1st generation, that means that it is new and there is only one model to date.

The generation aspect is one of the most important criteria that you should take into consideration when it comes to purchasing an Amazon Echo. We say this because there are many improvements that are made between each generation. In other words, the 2nd or 3rd generation models will always be far superior than the 1st generation model because customers will have tested the product and provided feedback to the manufactures. As a result, the newer Echo models will have better sound quality, materials, and features.

Not all Amazon Echo devices have a screen, check the product descriptions if you want a device with a screen.
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Speaker Quality

Although Amazon Echo devices are primarily made to be speakers and emit sound, not all models produce great sound. The more expensive models have better sound quality thanks to speakers with more power, i.e. more watts (W). If you are willing to pay for it, you can also find some models that integrate Dolby surround sound technology.

The best Amazon Echo devices when it comes to speaker quality are the Amazon Echo Plus and the Echo Show, as they feature Dolby technology. The Echo Dot and Echo Show 5 are close behind. The other Echo devices won’t provide you the best sound quality.

Screen Availability

As they were originally created to be intelligent speakers, not all Amazon Echo devices come with a screen. However, as they have evolved and improved with each generation, and to respond to market demand, a screen has been included in some of the most recent models. A screen is great if you don’t always want to speak with your device in order for it to function.

If you would like an Amazon Echo with a screen, you have 3 options to choose from. The Amazon Echo Show will provide you with a screen that is the largest and that has the highest resolution. With this screen, it is possible to watch music videos, view security camera footage or make video calls. The Amazon Echo Show 5 also features a screen, although it is much smaller in size. The Amazon Spot has a screen as well, but it is tiny in comparison with the Echo Show.

Screen Size and Resolution

Screen size and resolution only matter if you’re looking for an Amazon Echo device that contains a screen. The quality of the screen resolution follows the same order as the screen size. The Echo Show, with its 10-inch screen, finds no rival in the Echo Show 5 (5.5″ screen) and Echo Spot (2.5″ screen). Keep in mind that the main function of all these devices is to be a loudspeaker that listens to you through their microphones and play music.

Screen resolution only matters if you’re looking for an Amazon Echo device that contains a screen.
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Integrated Controller

Some Amazon Echo models include a controller called ZigBee, that allows you to manage the other smart devices in your home. With ZigBee, you can create a completely interconnected smart home that can be controlled through your Amazon Echo. However, keep in mind that other smart devices you have must be compatible with Amazon Echo devices in order to create a complete smart ecosystem.

Some Amazon Echo models come with a controller called ZigBee to control other devices in your smart home.
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Summary

The Amazon Echo devices pioneered and revolutionized loudspeakers thanks to the integration of the incredible voice assistant Alexa. By incorporating Alexa into their speakers, Amazon transformed normal loudspeakers into intelligent speakers. Since the very first version back in 2014, the Amazon Echo devices have been changing, improving and evolving to become some of the most advanced technology available to everyday consumers.

In the Echo family, you can find many different models that are suitable for specific situations. To find the model that best suits you, consider how you will use the device and what your budget is. If you are considering an Amazon Echo to modernize your home, you now have all the information to select the most suitable model.

If you have found this guide useful and informative, please share it on your social networks or leave us a comment below.

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Why you can trust me?

Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.